Eighteen months before Megaupload’s operators were indicted in the United States, the company complied with a secret U.S. search warrant targeting five of its users, who were running their own file-sharing service using Megaupload’s infrastructure, according to interviews and newly unsealed court documents.
The June 24, 2010 warrant to search the Megaupload servers in Virginia was part of a U.S. criminal investigation into NinjaVideo, which was piggy-backing on Megaupload’s “Megavideo” streaming service. Though the feds had already begun quietly investigating Megaupload months before, in this case the government treated Megaupload as NinjaVideo’s internet service provider, serving Megaupload with the warrant and asking them to keep it quiet.
Megaupload responded as “good corporate citizens,” said Ira Rothken, who represents founder Kim Dotcom. The company kept the warrant a secret and turned over information on the alleged NinjaVideo operators, as well as database information on the 39 pirated movies detailed in the warrant. The NinjaVideo probe led to the indictment of the five top NinjaVideo administrators, including founder Hana Beshara, on charges similar to those now faced by Dotcom and other Megaupload operators.